Friday, December 23, 2005

Strictly OPEN business

20050814_bretagne2005_007I received
feedback from visitors  who asked me why I would not confine this blog to
"strictly business matters". I appreciate honest feedback so first of all a big thank you.

For me, Open Business is about passionate
, about curiosity, about exploration, about discovery and
about action. All these things require one core ingredient: humans. Competent, balanced, motivated, positive, energetic, driven, passive, tired, happy, sad... people. Variety. Talent. Movement. What the authors of Funky Business call "core competents" and I firmly believe there is a place for all in this world. Go out an stake your claim!

This is the world of alex Inc., and "strictly business"
is what I do, no matter if some posts seems "broader" (whatever that means).

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Kipling's invitation

20051120_aramis_00620051118_aramis_004I spent some time with my new business advisor, Aramis my cat, reflecting about the intense moments of the past decade of my life and about things that I find moving in the world. About sad and violent leadership, success and failure, the death penalty in our world's most advanced nation, useless wars, priceless sparks of peace, advances, major and minor catastrophes... Life, the Universe and Everything. There is a poem of R. Kipling that should be read by leaders, managers, politicians, researchers, artists, employees, freelance experts, social workers, doctors... everyone because it is a tremendous resource for a more peaceful and harmonious world (within first and outside next, not the other way round as some of our leaders do):



If you can keep your head when all about you

 Are loosing
theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

 But make
allowance for their doubting you,

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

 Or being lied about,
don't give way to hating,

Or being hated, don't look too good, nor talk too wise:


If you can dream - and not make dreams you master;

 If you can think
- and not make drams your master;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

 And treat those
two imposters just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken

 Twisted by
knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave life to, broken,

 And stoop and
build 'em up with worn-out tools;


If you can make one heap of all your winnings

 And risk it on
one turn of pitch and toss,

And loose, and start again at your beginnings

 And never
breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

 To serve your
turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

 Except the Will
which says to them: "Hold on!"


If you can talk with crowds and keep you virtue,

 Or walk with
Kings - nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

 If all men count
with you, but none too much:

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

 With sixty
seconds' worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,

 And - which is
more - you will be a Man, my son!


R. Kipling

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Moving towards > Moving away from

Movingawayfrom_2Dealing with a situation that is unsatisfactory is not necessarily an easy task if a person or an organisation is in a frame of mind that focuses on the idea that they want to MOVE AWAY from a problem. Of course, building awareness that an issue exists and taking some distance from it to assess the situation is necessary. Only, the solution does not come from focusing very intensely on the problem expressing a desire to move away from it. In fact, the more energy one puts in thinking about a problem the more this problem becomes powerful in everyday life. As ever, more of the same (re)action brings more of the same (unsatifactory) results: having more of the same attitude or performing more intensely (ineffective) actions won't work.
Movingtowards_4This is where some transformational work is required. This change can be pretty deep if the person or the organization is determined to overcome the unsatisfactory situation. The transformation involves the development of a mindset of MOVING TOWARDS a properly defined objective.

That's fascinating and challenging work to accomplish with people and human organizations and it is often a profoundly enriching journey. At the end of the day we can realise we create our hells and our paradises right here on planet Earth.

These last few weeks I have had a number of discussions around problematic situations both with individuals and with organizations. I find a recurrent pattern in that when people are faced with a problem they tend to feed (too much) energy into the problem and sometimes have trouble doing something (radically) different to sort things out for themselves. And you know what? For someone to transform an unsatisfactory situation, it takes true commitment and a lot of courage, without which no "helper" in the world can do anything for the person in trouble.

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Simplicity & design: food for thought

Holidays_martinique_2004_00032Nature is a good inspiration for simplicity, functionality and good design. Flowers are one manifestation of good natural design, at the same time beautiful and functional (flowers are in fact the reproductive organs of a plant, so they do have a very vital function).

Now, I personally consider design to be a wide or transversal discipline that is not solely confined to the way physical items look. Design is also how a service is being performed and there is a particular area that I like to call business design, which involves deliberate thought about the identity, the values, the capabilities and the operating mode of a business in an endeavour to make the whole harmonious.

There is a very interesting article in the November issue of the Harvard Business Review, which deals with business design and complexity; the title of the article is "Innovation versus Complexity: What is Too Much of a Good Thing". The article makes a good job in showing how business end up stacking new components, services, options, products, alliances... in a more or less random way. A bit like Lego parts assembled together in a totally haphazard manner or at least in a way that reflect the history of the organization but not necessarily the necessities of the present situation. Taking that point into account, it is interesting to combine it with lines of thought of innovation theory that claim the imperative to combine creation and destruction or even suggest to tear down a part of something in order to create a new form better suited to current realities.

Extremely interesting, because then what immediately follows from this is the question of HOW an organization can actually perform that and change, which brings us to the post of a couple of weeks ago on change management. And in an essentially chaotic world, in which organization is often an emergent phenomenon, the tools need to be chosen carefully and applied skillfully  to include all aspects of business starting with the human factor.

Monday, December 5, 2005

Interesting comparison

Sp3220050808121353_1I recently received an email comparing the salaries of ministers and parliamentarians to the average income of the "general population", in a European country I would rather not name. Naming the country is not that relevant I think because the conclusions are valid for all mediacracies. Mediacracies are former democracies in which the power of the people was insidiously replaced by the power of powerful media serving particular interest groups by shaping public opinion and offering biased news. Most western countries have become or are about to become mediacracies in this beginning of XXIst century.

The data is interesting because it shows that the rulers earn over 15 times more than the average and likely 30 times more than the lowest incomes. The question is how can the rulers possibly understand the life their people live, how can leadership be compasionate when there is such a spread in wealth between those who rule and those who are being ruled?

While I find the data interesting, I dislike the exercise because it can bring arguments in favour of extremists who claim we should dismantle the "establishment" to create some sort of new order.  Sarkozy's and W's Brave New World... When examining the new order these people offer, its similarities with the worst totalitarian regimes of Europe's long History are striking.

Let us beware of "simple solutions" for they usually don't work and cause a lot of misery.

Friday, December 2, 2005

What's heresy?

Ap_qmsymbol_1We live times in which thinking along the lines of "official truth" is good for the individual's welfare. Now, even the way History should be taught is defined by governments, like for example in France. For the French government the positive role of colonisation MUST (sic!) be taught at school. That's less than two weeks after the turmoil in their suburbs. France who was teaching lessons of freedom, democracy and respect of civil liberties to W's America...

Anything other than the official, soviet-style truth is called heresy. And heresy is a "bad" thing nowdays. But what is the original meaning of heresy? Heresy comes from αιρεσις, which used to mean choice in Ancient Greece.